Tuesday, August 25, 2015

CACM Viewpoints on Theory and Experiments

There's a fun pair of viewpoints in the September CACM by Jeffrey Ullman and myself on experiments in computer science research, with him addressing systems conferences(/people) being far too focused on experiments as the research validation methodology, and me addressing theory conferences(/people) being almost strangely averse to experimental results.  (This link may bring you a digital version of his viewpoint, and this link to mine.)  I hope they might be interesting reading or food for thought.  As someone who works in both camps, I find this separation -- which we both seem to think is growing -- worrisome for the future of the CS research community.   

We actually wrote these up about a year ago (or maybe longer).  Jeff wrote something on the topic on Google+, and I responded.  I think he got drafted into writing something for CACM, and then I got drafted in later.  There was a pretty thorough reviewing process, with a couple of back and forth rounds;  then there was a non-trivial wait for publication.  This seems OK to me -- I'm glad CACM has a non-trivial queue of items for publication.  Overall it was a thorough and reasonably pleasant publication experience, and it's appealing that CACM offers a platform for these types of editorial comments.

Friday, August 21, 2015

SIGACT Meeting, Some Stuff

As some of you know, I was recently elected to the position of SIGACT (ACM Special Interest Group on Algorithms and Computation Theory) Chair.  So some part of this blog will be devoted to issues related to SIGACT for the next few years.  Comments and opinions are, naturally, extremely welcome.  

I'm on the train back from an orientation meeting for new chairs, and the SIG Board meeting.  Here are some things mostly from the orientation meeting, in a semi-random order.

1)  For people who have issues with ACM publication practices, some news.  First, they've moved to a model where conferences can maintain links to papers so that they are freely accessible.  STOC is/will be doing this, for example, so there will be a "permanent" STOC conference page each year with links to the STOC papers.  Similarly, authors can generate an "Author-izer" link for their web page giving people access to each of their ACM papers.  (I think there is a limit there of one such link per author.)  In any case, making publications more freely accessible is an issue ACM is dealing with, and the direction appears quite positive.

2)  There's other publication issues being considered, including whether/how conference papers can be published as journal articles in computer science (what should be the conference-journal relationship?), and some other forward thinking about publication models.  [There will be editorial and some viewpoints in the September CACM issue.]

3)  On the more mundane side, ACM is re-doing its website.  There is a preview at preview.acm.org , and they are desirous of feedback.  (On most browsers, there should be a feedback link over on the right hand side of the page.)

4)  The ACM is starting to do book series.  You can get more information at books.acm.org , and they are looking for authors.

5)  The ACM has a student research competition (beyond the CRA stuff) -- information at src.acm.org .  We may look to see if we can incorporate this into STOC (or another theory conference).

6)  For those interested in logic and computation, or formal methods in computer science (broadly defined), you may be interested in (and not yet have heard about) SIGLOG (The ACM Special Interest Group on Logic and Computation), which formally came into being about a year ago.  Please consider joining.  

There was plenty of other stuff, but it was primarily administrative information that would bore you.